The Elephant in the Room

Published 9:17 am Monday, June 6, 2022

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The expression “elephant in the room” was alleged to have been created by Russian poet and writer of fables, Ivan Krylov. He wrote a fable by the name of “The Inquisitive Man” about a man who went to a museum and noticed all sorts of tiny things, but not a large elephant that was in the museum.

You’ve heard the idiom, I’m sure. The expression is sometimes used when something controversial happens and we seek to explain the incident by nibbling at the edges of all the circumstances, yet won’t mention the most obvious cause.

I have thought, as most of you, of the horrific tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, ever since it happened last Tuesday. For days, it was the only news available which means that there were plenty of opinions as to why such an awful event could happen in our nation.

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It was almost like Captain Renault in the movie, Casablanca, when Major Strasser was shot by Humphrey Bogart. His men arrive and, instead of arresting Bogart, he directs his men to “round up the usual suspects.” In other words, “Call in the usual experts on why these too-often tragedies happen,” but don’t mention the elephant in the room.

In reality, there is validity in many of the reasons given for this awful event. It’s true. The young man’s family life was a mess. Although he broke no laws in buying the weapons and ammunition, he probably should not have had them. Surely, he was mentally ill. No sane person would do what he did.

Maybe the law enforcement agencies of Uvalde were unprepared and made mistakes. I would ask, just how could you prepare for such an unbelievable situation as an attack on 4th graders? Why was the backdoor propped open? I could go on and on with a litany of “Whys.”

But let me return to the elephant in the room. There is a verse of Scripture that comes to mind and you’ve heard it many times. Second Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

“Heal their land.” When I am sick, I go to a doctor who assesses my illness and, most of the time, prescribes some medicine that will lead to a healing. God has offered us a prescription for the healing of our land.

It begins with calling God our Father. In all of the discussions about the sad event of last Tuesday, I have heard many reasons: the need for gun reform legislation, better security for our schools, recognizing the signs of mental illness, and the lack of a stable family. As I said a few lines ago, there is validity in these debates.

At the same time, recognizing God as the answer to our problems is the real beginning. That’s the elephant in the room. We can talk all around the problems that we have in our land, but until we humble ourselves and admit that there are no laws, no reforms, no amount of security, and no other answer for a sick and broken heart.

Here’s the Good News. Our hearts do not have to stay sick and broken. God has promised to listen, forgive, and heal. God takes no pleasure in a nation that offered the world a new way, but lost its own way. We’ve lost our way as a nation and we need a heart transplant.

There is only one way to get the kind of heart we need as a nation. Surrender the sick and broken one to the only One who creates new hearts.